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The Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI) has got an approval from the National Bank of Ethiopia to provide a community level mobile and agent banking services. The association has begun giving the service through the AWDAO outlets, which is a union of the Amhara, Omo, Dedebit, Adiss Ababa, and Oromia micro finance institutions, and aims to reach mainly poor communities and farmers in remote areas. AWDAO will be in charge of the service delivery via 6,000 selected stations across the country.
Awash Abtew, AWDAO Board Chairperson, addressing the media on March 23 said that the service’s main purpose is to help farmers use modern banking system.
“We have seen that even today, many farmers as well as those that live in the rural and some urban areas do not use banking system to transfer money because they don’t have access to agents near them to help facilitate the transaction. The new service we are launching will fill that gap.”
When this new service is provided in the selected areas, people can send or receive money through institutions as well as agents. A software package has been developed in the local languages of Amharic, Tigrigna, and Oromiffa to make communication with customers as simple as possible.
Teshome Kebede, Managing Director of AWDAO said the pilot project that was carried out in Tigray in the summer of 2014 had brought good results. After the pilot project was concluded, many people were interested in the service and were requesting for AWDAO to come to their locality and eventually the service was launched covering a much wider area. .
“We recruited the agents based on their trustworthiness, we gave them trainings on how to deliver the service. We charge customers only half the amount that banks are currently charging for wire money transfer, Teshome said.”
AEMFI which was established in 1996, targets to reach10 million customers in the coming five years. The association had an initial plan to provide 11 billion birr credit in the running out 5 years of the Growth and Transformation Plan, but it had surpassed that target by providing a credit of 15 billion birr until June of 2014 to 3.2 million people. It had also banked 11 billion birr from depositors.